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Apple Inc. has asked the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to dismiss allegations that the company is violating India’s competition laws.

The case filed by Jaipur-based non-profit Together We Fight Society (TWFS) alleges that the fees Apple charges developers for selling apps and in-app items through the App Store violate India’s competition rules.

In a 16 November response, the iPhone maker argued that its market share in the country is too low for it to be considered dominant. “Without dominance, there can be no abuse," said the response by Apple’s chief compliance officer Kyle Andeer.

TWFS filed the complaint against Apple in September. It alleged that Apple’s 30% commission against in-app purchases through its App Store raised costs for app developers and customers and worked as a roadblock for small developers to market their services.

Shivani Dharnia, president of TWFS, said her organization has filed a rejoinder to Apple’s response with the CCI. “We have stated in our rejoinder that while Apple may not have a notable market share in licensable operating systems in India, it does have a significant presence in India among non-licensable operating systems," Dharnia said.

Apple’s response to CCI also claimed the complaint may have been a “proxy filing". This allegation suggests TWFS is acting “in concert with parties with whom Apple has ongoing commercial and contractual disputes globally and/or that have complained to other regulators."

Dharnia denied the allegations and said Apple has not offered any proof to support this claim. “We will respond to such a claim as required when Apple offers any proof about it, which it does not have," Dharnia said.

Apple has adopted the market definition in its defence as Google is the dominant player in India, said Anisha Chand, partner at Khaitan & Co. “Basis this, the challenge before the CCI is to adopt the right market definition if this investigation is to go forward," Chand said.

“Under competition law, the question of abuse of unfair pricing can only be entertained if the entity in question is in a dominant position. The latter is not a mere monopoly, but a function of several factors, of which market share is a headline factor."

She also cited a 2013 case against Apple, which questioned the bundling of its services to each other. The CCI quashed that complaint, stating that there was no need for an investigation as Apple’s market share in India was small. Chand said that Apple is likely to rely heavily on this case, but it must also be cognizant that technology and Indian consumers have collectively changed and evolved since then.

“I believe that the case against Apple is likely to be quashed. It can be inferred from CCI’s cases, citing Section 3 and 4 of the Competition Act, 2002, largely state that if the overall market share is within 0-5%, then there is no appreciable adverse effect on competition in India," said Abhishek Singh Baghel, associate partner at DSK Legal.

The CCI has been in the spotlight over the competition regulation of Big Tech since regulators overseas have recently taken significant decisions about Apple, Google, and other tech companies’ business models.

Japan’s fair trade commission found Apple’s commission policy anti-competitive in September. Apple, in turn, announced a settlement that would allow apps with in-app purchasable items to include an external payment link in the country. In addition, South Korea has devised a policy that bars companies such as Apple and Google from forcing their payments modes on app developers.

Apple also defended its App Store commission in a case against gaming giant Epic Games by stating the commission acts as a royalty paid by developers to use a uniquely secure platform that it has invested in to develop.

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